When schools re-open in 2021, Northriding College, situated in Northriding, Johannesburg, will become one of Curro’s innovative DigiEd schools, offering a progressive technology-rich curriculum in the high school. The school, which offers grades 000 to 9, was acquired by Curro Holdings in 2019.
The DigiEd approach provides a progressive curriculum that focuses on mathematics, science, robotics and coding in addition to more traditional subjects. Digital learning material is pre-prepared and instantly accessible to learners. Learners have on-demand access to top-quality material, allowing them to move quickly through it if they understand it well, or to access it again if they need to spend more time on it.
“Although we were traditionally a NSC curriculum school, Curro’s DigiEd offering has become increasingly enticing, especially as we know we have to prepare our learners better to operate within the 4th industrial revolution,” says Joanne Quick, Executive Head of Northriding College. “I visited Curro Foreshore in Cape Town, where the DigiEd model was first rolled out, and while I was there, I spoke to 15 learners and asked them, ‘Would you ever go back to a traditional classroom?’ Every one of them said, without hesitation, ‘Not a chance.’”
Each learner has access to a dedicated computer at school, and in Northriding College’s case, a tablet.
The school day is longer (08:00 – 17:30), which means learners can finish all their work at school and go home without any homework. “It also helps working parents because they can drop off the learners on their way to work, and pick them up afterwards, so it’s really convenient,” Quick says.
The physical environment is also more flexible. Learners can work alone or in groups, are taught in classes where necessary, and can work in their own time and at their own pace with a flexible timetable. Teaching staff are also available throughout the school day to assist learners with questions or areas where they are struggling.
Quick stresses that the school is not completely doing away with traditional schooling, but rather augmenting it and making it future-fit – for the benefit of learners and their parents. “The human element is absolutely still there as teachers are still physically on site to help,” she says.
“When I entered the education space, I could see that schools had not really grasped the concept of what the future will be like for learners. They are planning for the end of their schooling in five years’ time, but they are not really planning for how exponentially things might change in those five years. This approach, I believe, will start to bridge that gap.”
“We are focusing on equipping our learners to be savvy – how to be entrepreneurially minded and have the right skillset to survive. One thing is very certain – they will have to be very comfortable with technology, which will require being more than just computer literate – skills like coding and robotics are essential.”
Quick says the Curro DigiEd curriculum and hybrid teaching model has many advantages. “It’s important to stress that this is not an online model – we are not replacing the teacher. In fact, there is a lot more relationship building this way, because the teachers interact so much more with the learners as they move around,” she concludes.